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Plasma TV picture performance has been steadily improving over the past five years but even the best of them still falls some way short of the venerable cathode ray tube. It’s a price we’ve been prepared to pay – in more ways than one -- for the undoubted luxury of a large flat screen but now there’s no need to compromise with the launch of the new Hitachi H2 panels with I2 image processing.


The H2 panel is used on the new 32PD3000 and 42PD3000 and overcomes the two main plasma bugbears, namely low brightness and a lack of contrast. The 42PD3000, which we’re looking at here, sets new benchmarks for a mid-priced panel with a contrast ratio of 1000:1 and a maximum brightness of 1000 CD/M2 (candelas per square metre), both of which compare favourably with large screen CRTs and on their own would probably earn this TV a best of breed award but the Intelligent Image (I2) video processing chip manages to squeeze even more out of the new panels.



The 42PD3000 panels is housed in a stylish sliver grey box with a matching swivel stand and detachable speakers. All of the AV connections are handled by a separate VCR-sized ‘MultiMedia’ box that connects to the panel by a single cable. Incidentally this can be stood on its side on a little stand, which could come in handy if you have space problems. The box has three SCART sockets, configured for RGB, S-Video and composite video inputs, there are also connections for component/progressive scan, a PC, stereo audio out, centre channel in and an external TV aerial. In short it’s no more difficult to wire up than a conventional TV.


Channel tuning and basic operation are also familiar territory with an easy to use set of on-screen displays, controlled from a conventional-looking remote ‘unified’ handset that can also drive Hitachi DVD and VCRs.



Don’t expect a lot of gadgets or toys. The 42PD3000’s feature list is fairly basic in comparison with a lot of recent plasma TVs, in fact the only notable extras are four mode picture and sound settings plus TruBass and matrix (3D) audio modes. It has Fastext teletext and a split screen function that lets you to watch TV and the PC input or a teletext page at the same time and the centre channel from a surround sound system can be piped through the speakers. As previously mentioned it has a component video input (Y/CbCr/YpbPr) that is configured for a progressive scan input for both NTSC and PAL.


Behind the scenes I2 image processing is responsible for increasing the number of picture lines to 1024, resulting in a smooth, highly detailed picture. By constantly monitoring the differences between picture fields I2 virtually eliminates jagged edges on moving objects and the ‘artefacts’ (blocking and background textures) that often blight digital broadcasts and video sources but it really comes into it’s own on DVD replay, especially when using a RGB video connection. The extra brightness and wider contrast range yields vivid, natural-looking colours with negligible banding on graduated shades and subtle changes in brightness. A new coated glass filter also helps to improve contrast, particularly in darker areas of the picture but without making the picture look any darker.


The side mounted speakers deliver a surprisingly crisp sound with a fair bass content. However, they’re more usefully employed in a centre-channel role with the surround channels heard through a halfway decent AV system, nevertheless they’re fine for general TV viewing and the various enhancement modes create a wide, detailed and lively soundfield.



CRTs still have a slight edge in some areas but the differences are now very small indeed and you would have to be sharp-eyed, and picky to spot them at normal viewing distances, and that’s assuming that you could get a 42-inch CRT (which you can’t…).  The 42DP3000 shifts plasma performance up a notch or two and it’s competitively priced so if you’ve been putting off buying a plasma TV until picture quality improves then maybe it’s time you had another look.


HITACHI            42PD3000

Price                 £4,500

Screen size            42-inches

Resolution            1024 x 1024 pixels

Contr. ratio             1000:1

Brightness             1000 CD/M2

Features            PAL/PAL 60/SECAM/NTSC operation, VGA, progressive scan (625/50p & 525/60p), RGB, S-Video, component, composite video inputs, detachable speakers, Fastext (100 page memory) TV/PC/Teletext split screen, 8 widescreen/picture zoom modes, 4 preset picture & sound modes, sleep timer, 2 x 10 watt rms amplification, SRS/Trubass sound, centre channel input, unified remote control


Dimensions            1233 x 300 x 713mm (inc speakers)

Weight  40.2kg

Contact             Hitachi 0345 581455, www.hitachitv.com




Ó R. Maybury 2003, 2401




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